College students who wonder whether there’s much left to accomplish in IT need look no further than Nizam Ishmael, a 30-year-old University of Texas graduate who has 13 approved patents and scores more in the works. This product of U.S. public schools in Queens, N.Y., and Lufkin, Texas is also the youngest person to hold the title of IBM master inventor.

Ishmael’s actual job is to evaluate some of IBM’s alpha and beta software, and the patent work is just something extra he does.

“I am required to have a comprehensive understanding of IBM software and open-source technology at a high level,” he said. “But many I know on a detailed technical level. So when I look at the software, I think of ways that it could be better, such as coming up with new functionality or updates that can be made to the user interface.”

Coming up with new ideas is just a small part of the solution, Ishmael said. “I also have a team I work with, and we brainstorm about all the ways to implement the ideas.”

He also does integration work, which he enjoys because it has allowed him to travel the world, because he likes to solve problems, and “because it connects me to the bigger things that IBM as a company is trying to achieve.”

Ishmael also teaches, which he said he finds satisfying because it’s an ongoing challenge for him to improve his teaching and presentation skills. “Presenting to a group of people is not something that comes naturally to me,” he said. “So I took a few IBM-sponsored public speaking classes to build my skills.”

Another of his many roles is IBM university ambassador. This involves presenting at student-organized functions and holding lectures about software technology for professors and students. “I have an 18-year-old brother who just graduated from high school, so I have learned how to communicate with young people,” he said.

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